I've decided that I will use the word Difficult in the title to identify which posts are about traumatic events. And I have learned that we all have a different view of what is traumatic. Some of my things may not seem traumatic to you at all. Some may seem pretty ugly. It's hard for me to judge.
My daughter accused me of being a tease in my post yesterday. Saying I have something important to say but not saying what it is. I can understand that perception. It was not meant that way.
It has been my experience that as people come to a point where they are really ready to talk about traumatic events, they ease into them. Often they have tried telling one or two select people and been re-traumatized by the response. Disbelief. Shame. Mockery. Anger. Denial. Belittlement. Shock. Abandonment. Judgment. Any of these things can happen when someone tells their story. A person telling a story like this is open and raw. They are extremely vulnerable. Any of these reactions will most likely shut them down so tightly they are unlikely to try again for years, if ever. It is sometimes called re-victimization. The person feels victimized all over again.
So, instead, they tiptoe into it. They reveal a little. Watch the reaction. Reveal a little more. If anywhere along the line the reaction is negative, they will most likely pull back.
I did not realize that this is what I was doing. I guess there is still a part of me that fears judgment even though I wasn't aware of it. But it's worth the risk.
Let me begin by saying that my life has not been limited to one traumatic event -- not by a long shot. So, those of you who know me may think you know what I meant to write about. Many of you know some of the events. But few of you know all of them. I do plan to write about more than one, over time. I don't know if I'll be able to write about all of them. It's tricky to know what to put out there, what is wise. In a few cases there is potential danger involved.
I will go slowly. I will follow my heart and trust my instincts.
Let's start with this one. I started talking about this one 5 years ago. I would not talk about it here if it were still like this. Let me make that disclaimer clear upfront: This is no longer the situation. This is important to note.
I was having great emotional difficulty at the time; a friend noticed and expressed concern. This friend expressed a willingness to listen no matter what it was. And this person happened to be a trained professional. I do not believe it was luck or coincidence that brought this person into my life at that time.
But still, I could not make myself talk about it. We emailed back and forth for a while, dancing around the subject, alluding to it, but not directly naming it. A few days before I finally named it I sent this email. It represents well the feelings people often have about experiences like this.
"Okay, I want to talk about it and I don't. These are the conflicts I'm having:
I'm afraid you won't understand.
I'm afraid you will.
I'm afraid you'll think worse of me.
I'm afraid you'll think worse of him.
I'm afraid I'll find out I'm overreacting.
I'm afraid I'll find out I'm not.
I'm afraid you won't believe me.
I'm afraid you will.
If I wait, it will all get better and there will be no need for this.
Okay, I've decided. I don't want to talk about it yet."
You see. It really is terrifying to reveal these things. Intimate things. And at the time you're so confused about how much is your fault and if it's really a big deal because it's become such a part of your life.
I apologize for making this another tease. But this is the way it unfolds. More to come.
Author's note -- This storyline will be continued on my other blog, The Difficult Things.